Creative industries are driving economic growth in Africa

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My mother wanted me to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, architect or at least an accountant. Those were the African parent approved professions, with some sort of a future. Chasing after a dream might be impractical, but isn’t that how legends are made?

One such icon is Caine Prize winning author and provocateur, Binyavanga Wainaina, who will be participating in a panel discussion about the creative industries at Columbia University’s African Economic Forum on March 25-26, 2011. I first learned about Binyavanga when I read his famous piece, How to Write about Africa, in Granta. I have been a fan ever since.

The last decade has seen an explosion in the entertainment sector in Africa, from Nollywood’s growth to a reputed $250 million industry, the emergence of several award winning authors, and the development of world class musical stars who are giving foreign acts stiff competition on the continent. It is not unusual to see the crowd in a nightclub in Lagos, Accra or Nairobi go wild when the DJ switches from an American to a local artist. This trend has also spread into the fashion industry. I was pleasantly surprised to notice on a recent trip to Nigeria, that my peers now find it more appropriate to wear traditional attire.

According to a UN report entitled Creative Economy: A feasible development option, during the recent global recession, the creative industries proved to be very resilient, growing over 14% worldwide. So, does mother know best when it comes to pursuing and building wealth in Africa?

Come and find out more about this and other related topics at Columbia University’s African Economic Forum. For more information or to register, please visit www.aef2011.com